The I-MOVERS Project was conceptualized to address the typical problems in the public market. The focus of the project is on the improvement of the market’s sanitation and waste management system; reasonable pricing of basic and prime commodities; compliance of business establishments to trade and industry laws, particularly on the Price Tag Law; consumer awareness on their rights and responsibilities; recognition of business establishments complying to trade and industry regulations; and, establishment of a redress mechanism for consumer issues and complaints.
Background and Problem
The Public Market or the Palengke is the face of business in the different cities and municipalities of the country, particularly in the non-metropolis areas. However, the typical public market is usually characterized by poor waste management and sanitation standards, presence of unscrupulous vendors, lack of a redress mechanism for consumer complaints, and no established systems of operations. Ironically, the public market should be a clean and well-kept place considering that this is where consumers buy their staple food. The I-MOVERS Project is piloted at the Santiago City Public Market referred to as the Juan Dela Cruz Public Market, located at the center of the City. It covers a land area of seven (7) hectares or 70,000 sq. meters catering to consumers from Santiago City and nearby municipalities. Despite the magnitude of its operations, there is no existing Market Code as guide in market administration. It also lacks basic utilities such as clean comfort rooms, washing areas, consumer welfare center, police outposts, among others. As a result, consumer protection is at stake, public safety and security is uncertain, cleanliness, and sanitation is similarly a problem. Another problem is the existence of deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices of some vendors and traders in the public market. The project was then extended to also cover Cauayan City Public Market to expand coverage in Isabela.
Solution and Impact
The Consumer Act of the Philippines (Republic Act 7394) provides that it is the policy of the State to protect the interest of the consumers and promote their general welfare and establish standards of conduct for business and industry. The best interest of the consumers must be upheld, such as food safety, reasonable prices, quality products, correct weights and measures, clean and green environment, among others. Hence, aligned with this Act, and in conjunction with the mandate of the DTI on consumer protection, the “I-MOVERS” Project was conceptualized to address consumer issues and concerns. The project focused on the enhancement of the efficiency and responsiveness of the public market in upholding consumer protection and in ensuring best value for money. It envisioned for the establishment of an efficient waste management system, standards and monitoring checklist, electronic price board, recognition of consumer-friendly stores, and a redress system coupled with increased consumer awareness on rights and responsibilities by providing information materials at the Consumer Welfare Center.
In ensuring that the objectives of this project are fully attained, the DTI-Region 2, established partnership with the LGU of Santiago City and Cauayan City, together with the market vendors’ association and Federation of Market Vendors Associations, consumer representatives and other stakeholders to jointly undertake measures and strategies in the implementation, sustainability and continual improvement of the public market through the “I-MOVERS.” Together, the project team implemented the following components and corresponding outputs that contributed to the significant improvement of the Santiago City and Cauayan City Public Market:
- Green Market : Establishment of sanitation and waste management monitoring standard checklist;
- Gawad Huwarang Tindahan: Institutionalization of a recognition system for business establishments within the public market;
- Honest Market : Installation of an electronic price board and Timbangan ng Bayan;
- Consumer-friendly Market : Establishment of a Consumer Welfare Desk (CWD);
- Well-informed Consumers/Business Establishments Market : Establishment of a Consumer Welfare Center and a Business Education and Information Corner; and
- Fair Trade Law-Compliant Market: Advocacy and monitoring on the compliance of business establishments to the Price Tag Law.